Ideas for creating a simple to use "Dialogue sketch" template

I’m trying to get my first draft done and a key part is to record ideas quickly if they come up. These are supports for my novel and are NOT there to be compiled.

One of those things that comes up as ideas are dialogue. I want to be able to write a back and forth without writing character names or complicated setup. I tried this with the list format to have my two characters speaking spaced apart with a different symbol.

But as the formatting tends to break easily, I’m looking for a better solution.

Tldr: any idea how to draft simple 2 character dialogue with intuitive formatting where you can see whos speaking?

You could make a document with speech bubbels like in WhatsApp. Aligned left and right and colored to easy to enter dialogue. Create a Document Template with a custom Section Type and Icon. Hook it up to a keyboard shortcut.

In WhatsApp you could create a Group with an second Personal phone number and have a conversation with yourself.

Wondering how to make this work in Scrivener…

Of course, even in the Windows version under Edit > Writing tools, there’s Dialogue focus, but that’s when the dialogue is already written…

Good idea, but I really want to create and keep my notes in scrivener. The whatsapp type format makes it really easy to tell speakers apart, but using external programs or even alternate phones throws the whole quick and simple template idea in the dumpster.

Styles would help aligning and coloring. Can one save a Style in a Document Template? Then I think it can be done.

Create a folder called Dialogue or Conversation, create two styled Document Templates and Hook them up to keyboard shortcuts.

Don’t know yet how to get the dialogue in one view, without compiling, yet. With Compiling it can be done. Scrivenings from the Conversation folder?

[EDIT] Actually created a working demo for dialogue Messenger-style.

QuickDialogueEntry (24.3 KB)
Works very fast alternating Styles in a Document Template, but has no relation to characters, yet. But you said: “I want to be able to write a back and forth without writing character names or complicated setup.”
@AmberV - It’s a pity Font and Font Size are not copied into Styles used in a document template :wink:

I’m not at my computer to be able to test it, but at first glance this looks like the sort of the thing which scriptwriting mode would be good for. In principle, all you’d need to do is

  1. Choose a script format which is closest to how you want the dialogue to look (e.g. a radio script has the name and dialogue on the same line, with follow on lines indented)

  2. Duplicate that format, then remove all the non-character and dialogue elements.

  3. Change the ‘tab’ (or ‘enter’) actions to move in the sequence char > dialogue > char > dialogue etc.

Now all you have to do is type the letter of the character name (which will auto-complete) → tab → type the dialogue → enter → char etc.

You could also keep a general element for normal text.

This modified scriptwriting format can be allocated to a document template, so it will be available for new documents as required.

Does that sound useful?


OK, a quick mockup. It was relatively easy to do, but if it’s helpful and you want some tips on how to do it please ask…

(I know you say you don’t want to have to type character names and would use a symbol, but scriptwriting’s auto-complete feature means you only have to type one character, which is as quick as typing a symbol…)


Wow, these ideas are great! I’m gonna try them right now, thank you so much!

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What you showed here is very cool, is there a way I can import the format you’ve shown here into my scrivener?

Sure! Here’s a slightly amended version: Dropbox - Quick Draft.xml - Simplify your life

Save this file (Quick Draft.xml) to your computer, then in Scrivener, go to Format > Scriptwriting > Script Settings… and in the dialogue which appears, click on Manage in the bottom left corner. Choose Load from file and load in Quick Draft.xml.

You should see something like this:

Click on OK. If you get a dialogue box asking you to convert to the new format, then you should just be able to click OK.

Now, open a new document, and enter open the Format > Scriptwriting menu – you should see the option Quick draft is now available. Click on that: again you’ll see the conversion dialogue. Accept it.

Now you can click on Format > Scriptwriting again and you should see the top item is Script Mode – Quick draft plus a shortcut. Make sure this item is ticked.

You can test it all works in the new document, and when you’re happy, you can make a new template document using Script Mode - Quick Draft.

If you want to amend any of the settings (fonts, indents, behaviour), just go to Format > Scriptwriting > Script settings again and make the changes there.

If using Scriptwriting mode is new to you, then have a look in the Interactive Tutorial, which has an overview, or in the Manual for a more comprehensive review. The TLDR, though, is that you use a combination of TAB and ENTER keys to change the elements quickly.


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I did indeed not look at the scriptwriting before and now I’m scouring tutorials and the like for it to work out fine. Thank you so much for everything, I’ll keep you posted ^^

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Note that Script mode is a per-document setting. If you suddenly find that your “normal” text is behaving strangely, make sure you haven’t accidentally turned Script mode on for that document.

I played around with it for a long while and even if it was frustrating at times, it was worth it!

Thank you so much. Now that I know about Scriptwriting Mode, I’ll probably use it way more to enhance my future Novel projects, including my plan to write simple Scene Screenplays before putting them into prose!

Excellent! Playing with the formats can be a bit daunting, because they are so flexible – I’m glad you got it working.